Thursday, April 16, 2009

A whole chicken

I'VE spent most of the week recovering after an Easter visit from the Fat Kid, her new bloke Scott and my two wonderfully well behaved grandchildren the Vin Monster and Big Boy.
And fair play to Big Boy, he is living up to his name.
We took the two of them to be measured for their wedding suits on Saturday and amazingly his waist measurement was exactly the same as his brother, who is a small matter of four years older than him. It has to be said, they looked very cute in a butter-wouldn't-melt sort of way.
After that it was lunch at Burger King when the Fat Kid's Chicken burger took so long to turn up that it could hardly be described as fast food.
Then Wren joined us for a trip to beautiful Roath Park, which was teeming on a very hot day. We bought a football for the occasion and had a kick around which did nothing to aid my strained back.
The good thing, though, was it wore the two youngsters out and by 8pm they were in bed which gave us the chance to settle down and watch Angus, thongs and Perfect Snogging which was a very pleasant interlude.
The night before I had treated the Fat Kid and her brood to a whole cooked chicken from the brilliant Albany Fish Bar on Albany Road. With three large portions of chips there was still plenty left over at the end and, for the all-in sum of £13 (with curry sauce and chilli sauce included) it proved a real bargain. By comparison our Burger King extravaganza, with stingy portions of chips, amounted to over £20. How does that add up?

On Sunday Wren and I had a stroll around Dyffryn Gardens, which was very pleasant in the sunshine, even for a renowned park-hater like me. After that we popped for a quick beer to the Black Cock up on Caerphilly Mountain before retiring to the flat for a quick fix of The Wire. A very pleasant weekend, without too much misbehaving and it has been pretty quiet ever since.
It's probably about the right time for this blog to take a holiday - at least until the Wonderful One does something worth recording.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hen party

I am starting to worry that my future wife may be about to marry the wrong bloke. I first got this nagging suspicion when she went on her hen weekend to a country cottage spa in darkest Somerset.
During the evening's frivolities her friends, including my daughter the Fat Kid, ambushed her with a Mr and Mrs style competition in which she received presents for getting questions right about me, and forfeits if she got them wrong.
To be honest, she did fairly well until one particular question came along. It went something like this:
What is Rippers ideal fantasy?
There was then a multiple choice set of answers. They were:
a. To be marooned on a desert island with Wren?
b. To see Bristol Rovers win the Premiership title?
c. I don't remember c.

Now, in the manner of that famous daytime TV programme through the keyhole, let's examine the evidence. This should be spoken in the hideously creepy tones of Lloyd Grossman.
Solution B first:
I have been a Rovers fan from the age of seven.
During that time I have seen them hovver around in midtable obscurity, gone all the way to Burnley in a Ford Escort to watch them play, travelled the length and breadth of the country to watch mediocre rubbish thinly disguised as football in sub-zero temperatures, worn my Bristol Rovers shirt to foreign countries, drunk out of a Bristol Rovers mug, kept my fingers crossed throughout an entire Saturday afternoon in the belief this will make them play better, and sampled just a couple of real highlights - ie the win at Wembley in the League Two play-off final and pipping Bristol City to the Division One title in the dim and distant past.
I am a sports nut. I will sit all day in front of Sky Soccer Special just to follow the Gas on their travels, cursing when they lose and celebrating like a lunatic if they win. A bad result puts me in a bad move for the rest of the weekend. Wren knows this, she has suffered it first hand.
A good result, and I will have to watch every repeat of Big League Weekend 2 just to see the Gas goals over and over again.

Now what about Solution 2, A desert island?
I hate it when it's too hot and there is no cover, I don't like lolling around on the beach with nothing to do. I am not a great fan of foreign insects with 20 legs who land on you and take a bite out of you whenever they feel like it, I don't like swimming in shark-infested waters. I would be useless at catching my own food. I might be able to cook it, but I doubt whether I would have a chance because I wouldn't be able to start a fire. The last time I tried to put up a tent it collapsed on me. I failed the boy scout entry exam. I need a sanitary, spotlessly clean toilet with at least 10 spare loo rolls at any one time.
I need at least 10 roll-ups a day to keep me on an even keel. I need my sport fix or I get grumpy. I can't live without Sky Sports, and, I imagine, there would be no facility for Sky Sports on a desert island, let alone somewhere to stick the satellite dish. I love my cricket, but I doubt whether the England cricket team would be visiting a desert island for a test series any time soon.
To those who may only have a passing knowledge of me as a person, the answer is a no brainer.

Wren chose A. Marooned on a desert island. I can't believe it. WRONG!
I think she must be confusing me with Tom Hanks, perhaps because I told her of my friend Wilson, the football I won on my stag weekend to Brighton. I can't think of any other reason apart from the fact that maybe she was absolutely trolleyed out of her brain.

TALKING of strange happenings, the wonderful Withers of WoS has been sneaking off in the evenings and negating his regular custom of going to the boozer and getting bladdered every day after work. We are all a mite suspicious.
I confronted him the other day and he explained he had gone to some evening affair where journalists meet and advise charities about how to best publicise themselves.
Now, come on. Withers is far too selfish, and tight, to lift a finger to help out a charity unless, of course, there was some young flossie who had caught his eye and asked him to do it.
He denied this heavily though, and his reasoning actually did have me believing him. You will see why when you read his explanation...
"Yeh, it was like speed dating for charities. They went around the tables, met a journalist and then spent three minutes with them before moving on. It meant someone HAD to sit and listen to me for three minutes."
Yep. That's writer and broadcaster Withers for you. At least when he is writing you can turn over, and when he's on the radio or TV you can turn off. In that situation... no escape. I think there should be a charity for victims of Withers waffle.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Burger at the footie

WITH 20 odd people to count in and count out on our Jolly Boys' outing to Brighton it was quite an achievement that there was only one missing person by the time the dust had settled on Friday night's antics.
But he wasn't missing for too long. At 8.45am as the Wonderful One and I were taking in the fresh sea air (and an essential nicotine hit) a taxi turned up outside the Lagoon containing a beaming figure waving like the Queen to her adoring citizens. Twas the Baker Boy, looking pleased as punch with his evening's exploits in Brighton.
We're still none the wiser to where he actually stayed the previous night, but I am leaning towards one of the wooden shacks that line the beach between Hove and the famous Brighton pier.

Once the mass of human flotsam had gathered in one place it was a pleasant (but rather long) walk along the seafront into town for most of us. Some - namely Shutts, Danny Boy and Jarhead - opted for the easier option and comandeered a bus for the journey. The rest of us made it to the pier where we went for a stroll and admired the fairground rides from afar (they looked pretty bloody frightening to me, if the truth be told).
We did, though, have an impromptu game of footie at one of the stalls where the object was to kick a ball through one of the many holes in the facing wall - and this is how we ended up with Wilson.
Triumphantly, I managed to succeed with one of my kicks, much to the chagrin of more "seasoned" soccer players like Rosey and Stu. I almost did a lap of honour, shirt over my head, I was so delighted to score and the whole event was recorded on video... you can see it on YouTube now via the link
This is how we managed to acquire Wilson, a fluffy football named after the inanimate object Tom Hanks befriended in Castaway. He soon became a valued member of the crew.
After that there was a bit of umming and aahing before we decided the best course of action was to visit the pub. And it was at a little drinking hostelry called the Druids Head that the kitty began again and the great and the good came together.
Last on the seen, and looking like he had been pulled through a number of bushes backwards, was the Prince. He seemed more pale than normal for a nocturnal, blood-sucking member of the undead. Perhaps that is why he started his day, a little after 2pm, with a drink that looked remarkably like blood.
His excuse for his appearance was even better than the real reason ie that he had had drunk around a gallon of alcohol throughout the previous 24 hours or so. "I forgot to bring my hairdryer," he opined, even though his hair looked no different than any other day of the week.

After a few pints and a spot of lunch four of us brave souls headed for the great Withdean Stadium, along with Wilson, to see the League One bootfest between Brighton and Tranmere.
First surprise came when I sauntered up to the turnstiles with cash in hand. "Sorry, Love, you can't pay at the gate, you need a ticket."
"A ticket? You're joking!" I said, hardly able to contain my surprise. The fact that a little over 3,000 people were likely to turn up for the game made this confusing, to say the least.
This led to 20 minutes fevered activity as Stu rang ticketline and ordered four tickets to be faxed through to the Withdean post haste. As we waited we had a kickabout with Wilson.

Eventually we got into the ground. The Brighton fans, in full flow, were singing their remarkably original little ditty "Seaaaaa... Gullllllls, Seaaaaa... Gulls!" And then the action started... or didn't.
We all had bets on when the first goal would be scored... ironic really, as the 90 minutes petered out into a predictable 0-0 stalemate.
Not that we stayed the full 90 minutes. It was cold, and the clouds were gathering, so we decided to leave early to "avoid the crowds" (yeh, right). As I sneaked through the gate a female security guard made a grab for me. "You can't leave!" she shouted.
"What do you mean I can't leave?" I responded.
"Well you won't be allowed to come back in."
"I don't want to come back in... it's utter sh** and it cost me £24," I responded.
"Oh, sorry love," was her sympathetic response.

SO, after a quick game of pool in a local boozer, it was back to the ranch for the partying to begin again. Scooby, the builder and Pete joined us after travelling up in a camper van in which they were to spend the night.
A couple of Baileys with ice helped to settle the stomach then we piled into taxis to go to the exotic-sounding Portland Rock Bar. The owner had told us to be there by eight to avoid disappointment. After all, a popular Who tribute band were playing that night.
As it was our extended crew got in without a problem, having to pay the outrageous £8 door fee. A couple of rough looking locals surrounded the stage, possibly explaining why the taxi driver had warned us: "I hope you have stab vests."
There were also four women in the corner who, it has to be said, looked like they were on a care-in-the-community outing. Still, it didn't stop our own Wayne Sleep, the Fabulous Baker Boy, jigging around the dancefloor with them to tunes like Who Are You? and Pinball Wizard.
As soon as they played 5.15 I was on the dancefloor, doing my best impressions of Pete Townshend full of windmill guitars and the like. It was only when I got home I realised I had probably strained my intercostal muscles and have been wincing with every movement since.

After the Who extravaganza, which ended on the perfect note with Won't Get Fooled Again, the majority of us filed back to the hotel in taxis to join in the Karaoke.
First up was Shutts, and to see the tallest man in the world rapping along to Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers do, was a sight to behold. He had been nominated by Rosey but soon got his own back.
After I had performed a rather tuneless, shouty version of Senses Working Overtime by XTC, Rosey was called to the stage and asked to perform Joe Le Taxi - in French! Fair play, the boy gave it his best though I doubt he will be climbing up the French pop charts any time soon.
As the night went on Scooby tried to enlist everyone into a Queen singalong, and the Fab BB grabbed the microphone for Elton John's I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues. There was a worrying moment in the middle when his legs seemed to buckle and he ended up sitting on the DJ's lights - an incident that earned him a stern glare from the man in charge.
Meanwhile, Jarhead was desperately trying to fight his way to the door past an imoveable object - Shutts - in order to avoid performing one of his Elvis favourites, Suspicious Minds. He managed to get out of the ordeal, but only by the skin of his teeth.
In the end it all wrapped up and we teetered off to bed, a good time had by all.

Before we departed we had a little kick around outside the hotel, and Shutts managed to slice Wilson over a garden fence behind a locked gate. Never to be seen again. Poor old Wilson.